The NBA’s most historic rivarly is three days away from resuming for the 12th time in the championship round. The last time these two storied franchises met in the Finals, in 2008, things did not go so well for the Lakers.
To a man, L.A. says they have wanted to meet up with Boston again, in an effort to exact revenge. Well, now here’s their chance.
Pau Gasol recalls the Laker team bus getting pelted with rocks by Celtics fans following the title-clinching Game 6 of the ’08 Finals; last summer, Phil Jackson personally told Paul Pierce that he wanted the C’s to regroup and meet the Lakers back in the Finals; even Ron Artest (while playing for another team, no less) wanted a piece of the Celtics following their 2008 Finals beatdown of the Lakers.
The LA Times caught up with some of the main characters in the rivarly’s latest chapter:
If the Lakers’ video staff needs any inspiration for the NBA Finals, it won’t be difficult. The guys who put together game video for team meetings this week can insert a wide array of images between clips of the Boston Celtics’ physical defensive front and Rajon Rondo picking apart any number of teams.
In no particular order, they could use: Paul Pierce dancing on the Celtics’ bench during a timeout in the final minutes of the 2008 NBA Finals; the Garden crowd derisively chanting “Where is Kobe?” while the Celtics hovered near a 30-point fourth-quarter lead and Kobe Bryant sat on the bench in the decisive Game 6; the Celtics returning to Los Angeles later in the summer of ’08 for a sports awards show and bragging onstage of “another win in L.A.” after taking the category for top pro team of the year. It’s up to the Lakers whether they want to revisit what happened two years ago, including the 131-92 loss they sustained in the clinching game, the second-largest margin of defeat ever in an NBA Finals game. So far, they seem fine with going there. “I think everybody on our team remembers what happened,” Andrew Bynum said.
The Lakers signed Ron Artest to a five-year, $33-million contract last July with a challenge like this in mind. “Pierce is a very tough matchup,” Bryant said. “He’s one of the few players that has a long ball, that has mid-range game, can get to the basket. I think that makes him tough to cover, but Ron is up to the challenge.” … “It’s something that has been anticipated now for the last couple weeks,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “So here it is.”
The Lakers got what they wanted all along. Soon, we’ll find out if they’re truly up to the challenge.